My Response to the NYT Article: The Kids Who Beat Autism

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There have been lots of reactions to the New York Times article entitled “The Kids Who Beat Autism.” Most have not been good. My reaction was a sort of blood-boiling anger, but perhaps not for the same reasons. After reading it, I immediately and frantically started texting my boyfriend all of my thoughts and feelings, and he was like “Isn’t this why you started a blog?”. Yeah, I guess it is.

Most people have been upset, for various reasons, about the main premise of the article. The article focuses on the idea of “recovering” from autism. My opinion on this is that the scientific verdict is still out and the idea of “recovery” is a (hostile) grey area.

Did kids that “recover” ever truly have autism? Maybe, maybe not. Is there a subtype that has the potential for recovery? Maybe. Is it wrong to consider autism as something that needs recovering from? The answer to that is different for everyone based on their personal experiences with this matter. Those with a child or family member with autism are far more qualified to give their opinion on that particular discussion than I.

Another cause for the great upset is in the first paragraph of the article,  where it states that a “speech therapist waved it off.” ASHA submitted a letter to the New York Times about this, and last I checked they were still waiting to see if it would be published.

My feeling on this particular issue is that if the author doesn’t care enough to get the name of the profession correct (in the US, there are no licensing boards for “speech therapists.” We are not “speech therapists.” Anyone can call themselves a “speech therapist.” I paid a lot of money for a degree and for licensure as a Speech-Language Pathologist), then I don’t really think their opinion on that particular profession is valid. Also, we all miss things we wish we would have seen. So, this isn’t what caused my anger either. Get my name right and then we’ll talk.

What made me upset is also one of the main reasons I started writing in this little corner of the internet. I plan on having a whole series on this issue, but I do not find it beneficial therapeutically to classify something as a “behavior.” The reasons and research behind my feelings on this will be discussed at length in what will probably be a series of posts, but is beyond the scope of this entry.  This article made ABA out as the be-all, end-all of therapy for autism. I am really very sick of this in the media. There are better interventions. If you are reading this, you probably know that.

End rant. Let’s all move on with our lives.

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